Day 4 and I’m feeling good

Day 4 of my post-vacation diet. I’m surprised to find that, now that the initial few days of adjustment have passed, I’m actually, kind of, enjoying it.

I’m less hungry, throughout the day, for some reason. I don’t have to make any food decisions whatsoever – I know exactly what I can have (and I can have as much of it as I want), and everything else is off-limits. That makes it extremely easy for me to resist foods I shouldn’t have.

For example, last night at a gathering of friends somebody set a plate of frosting-covered brownie bites on the table we were all sitting around. Normally I would agonize internally over whether or not I could have one, and once I’d had one, whether or not I should have another, and then once I’d had another, I’d start with berating myself for my weakness… you see where this is going.

When it’s not even an option…I don’t even think about it. No agonizing, no deciding, no self-recriminations later when I’ve “lost” the battle on whether or not to eat it. I just DON’T. It’s not in the plan, so it’s not food to me.

I had forgotten how much I like this aspect of the program. I like not having to make the decision – I like just following the program and knowing it’s all been worked out for me already.

This is one of the reasons I don’t do well on programs like Weight Watchers – I don’t WANT to have to decide what foods to eat and how much of it to have, I want that figured out for me so I can just focus on the rest of my day – work, hobbies, reading, whatever. This works for me.

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I Came to Some Realizations on Vacation

I’m back from vacation. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I mentioned a few weeks ago – am I broken? Did I break my metabolism? Am I truly at a point where I can no longer drop these pounds that I’ve picked up over the last 3 years?

I’ve come to three conclusions in all my mulling. One of them is about my constant migraines. After tracking for the 3 weeks I was on vacation and finding I had 8 of them in that time, I’ve decided to give a migraine-prevention regimen another try. But that’s neither here nor there regarding weight loss and management.

The other two conclusions I’ve come to are more related to my weight management issues. As I’ve mentioned before, the anxiety level at my workplace is insanely high, and I’m not sure at this point if it’s because it is, in fact, warranted or because my body is now having a reaction because I’m primed to be anxious when I arrive there, of just starting to pump out the anxiety hormones when I go to work. So I’m going to seek counseling about my work-induced anxiety, which I think will have some positive influences around my ability to manage my weight, as well.

The final conclusion I’ve come to is that I can’t know if I’ve broken my ability to lose weight for sure until I give it a serious, controlled-setting, all-in try. So I’ve decided to start a full-blown, strict, hardcore diet program of the type that I’ve had success with in the past. I’ll be sticking to 900-1100 calories a day, mostly shakes and portion-controlled entrees. I use HMR, if you’re curious, however for the record, as I’ve stated many times, what works for me may or may not work for anybody else. YMMV.

So I started that regimen yesterday. It’s a hard start, definitely a cold-turkey sort of approach. The first few days are always a bit rough, as my body adjusts to the new diet. I get headaches, fatigue, hunger, etc, but that tails off pretty quickly after a few days. I’m not sure how long I’ll be following this program, right now I’m thinking a month, but I can’t be certain. What I know is that I want to lose about 16-18 pounds. I came back from my vacation 1 pound up (pretty darn good!) from where I left, and I decided while on vacation that I’m not happy with the weight I’ve been maintaining for the last few years and I’ve been letting it slide because of the work situation – but I want to be at 190, not 200. So I’m going to aim to get there.

I’m hoping that this will allow me to know whether or not I’ve broken myself fairly quickly. At this level of intake I should lose about a pound a week consistently, maybe a little over. The first week will see a higher loss, but after that I expect to see steady loss. If I don’t, well…then I know I’m doing everything right and something’s not working. And I don’t know what then.

I’m trying to not see this as a failure – my failure to maintain my weight over the last few years. I know, intellectually, that it’s a constant battle and sometimes you just have to do a reset. That’s what I tell myself – I’m just doing a reset on my habits and lifestyle. But sometimes, I wish like crazy I was one of those people that didn’t have to work so hard at managing my weight. I wish I could eat right and exercise and everything would work out fine.

But as I’ve long since accepted, this is my Sisyphean task in this life.

I read somewhere that putting pictures in blog posts makes them more interesting, so here are some pictures from Greenland last week.  It’s incredibly, fantastically gorgeous there. Pictures don’t really do it justice.

Greetings from Iceland!

Tonight I’m in a little village in the East Iceland fjords. I’ve seen a lot of amazing stuff so far, some of them the fulfillment of lifelong dreams, so I’d say I’m having a perfect vacation.

Couple of things I’ve had to adjust on managing my weight:

1. My normal travel strategy is to hit a fruit and vegetable market for snacks as I’m traveling. Well, in a country where most of the fruits and vegetables are shipped in, or grown in greenhouses, the fruit and veggies for sale are either sad and old or prohibitively expensive. (actually, I’ve only seen the former kind, haven’t even seen any locally-grown produce yet, greenhouse or otherwise). Time to be flexible! For breakfast I usually have some muesli with skyr, which is an Icelandic milk product similar to yogurt but non-fat and very low in calories – utterly delicious! For lunch I try to eat at a cafe that has a soup option, a bowl of soup and a roll is usually all I need to keep going. And for dinner – when on an island, eat the fish! The seafood here is amazing! I’ve had lobster, cod, blue ling (I dunno anymore about it than that, it was the special so I ordered it), Atlantic char, and um, a few others. Can’t go wrong getting the fish in Iceland.

2. There’s no artificial sweetener to be found anywhere. It’s sugar or nothing. So I’m drinking my coffee a lot less sweet these days.

3. I keep moving a lot more on vacation than at home, so I hardly even notice the time pass, which means I’m looking around to graze a lot less often. This has spurred me to try to pay more attention when I’m back at home and at work to see if I’m eating out of boredom or true hunger.

Lots of walking every day, hiking up and down seeing glaciers, geysers, volcanoes and puffins! Oh, and here’s a picture I took yesterday in a grocery store – I call it “accurately labelled junk food.” —->

And speaking of sweetened beverages, several people I know have posted this article about high-fructose corn syrup, and how it prompts more weight gain than regular sugar as a sweetener. This is certainly something to bear in mind, when making food choices – corn syrup is in everything. Everything processed, that is. If you make your food yourself, you don’t have to worry about it, because who would purposely add that junk to their food? Eat food – not “food products”.

Oh, and that article was originally written in 2010, so it’s not exactly news, but it’s a good thing to know.

All right, back to vacation with me. This time I’m trying to take a vacation from my constant anxiety that I’m gaining weight when on vacation. Oy, it’s a constant battle in my head some days.

Is It Broken? Am I Broken?

I’m feeling a bit down lately about the whole long-term outlook for me and maintaining. I weighed in on Tuesday, after working hard all week, to find no change. It shouldn’t have slowed down, much less stopped, already – on week 2. I should still be losing, at least a half pound, according to my math.

And then I start to worry, and think that maybe these guys are right after all. Maybe fat is incurable after all. Maybe I’ve had a good run, but I’m seeing the trend now that’s going to be the rest of my life – a slow, inexorable climb back up to 300, maybe 400 pounds. Maybe I’ll have small phases where I can hold the line for a few months, but it seems like the last few years have been a slow climb that I’m powerless to stop or reverse.

I’m not sure what to do, starving myself doesn’t seem to work. Running 25 miles in a week worked a little, but that’s not a realistic long-term strategy for me.

Then I start to wonder if it’s stress. My job has been terribly, wickedly stressful these last two years. The time I took a year and a half off, living off of savings while I sorted some stuff out, I was in the best shape of my life – I could spend my day however I liked, so I made sure to get a good workout every day, including full-body strength training, I ate well, I was active, not sitting in a chair all day. So obviously if I could quit my job and focus on maintaining my weight maybe I could get things back where I want them. But who is going to be able to manage that kind of idle lifestyle? Rich people, maybe, of which I am not one. I am the middle class, and if I want to remain there and not fall into poverty I need to work for a living.

So I wonder if that’s the trade-off: Work for a living, or be in great shape. I want to be happy with my body as it is, even though I’m above where I would like to be. I’m not sure how to get there – to acceptance. If this is my life. I think step one is to continue to dress myself in flattering styles and colors, every day, regardless of the number on the scale. Step two is to kill off negative self-talk. This is the hard one. This is the mind-killer, for all women. How do you do that, when society tells you that to be beautiful you must be starving?

Yet I know differently, the most beautiful, strong, intelligent women I know don’t starve themselves, they have some padding and I love them for it. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, I know this and I firmly believe it – the women I find most attractive span the gamut but mostly fall into the “curvy” camp. So…why can’t I love and celebrate me with an extra 10, 20, or 30, heck someday 40 pounds? Why can’t I accept myself the way I accept other women? I wonder if they agonize in the same way?

How do I get there? Because dieting seems to be broken for me. Have I finally broken my metabolism for good?

I just don’t know.

What I do know is I leave tomorrow for Iceland and Greenland for 3 weeks on vacation. I guess I’ll see where I want to go with this after I get home.

Better late than never

As I mentioned earlier, I recently had a black toenail issue. Well, Saturday after my run, which wasn’t a particularly long one according to my current standards (5.5 miles), I noticed that the same toe on my OTHER foot was starting to be a little sore and the toenail was a bit pinker than the others.

Oh no no no!

So I tried to keep it elevated as much as I could over the weekend, didn’t run yesterday (which was fine, hadn’t planned to), and this morning when I got up at 6am to run I got out the door, about a block up the road and realized – whoa, this is really hurting. So I turned back, changed back into my PJs and slept for another hour. Because while it’s possible it will just run the same course as the other toe and not be a problem, it’s also possible it will require intervention, draining, antibiotics, etc. I can’t risk a medical problem right now, just before I head out of the country on a much-anticipated 3-week vacation!

So today I plan to go and get some new running shoes at lunchtime, because I’m beginning to think the shoes may be the culprit. Either they’re worn out and need to be replaced, or the size/style just isn’t right for the kinds of distances I’m starting to run. If it was just the one toe I wouldn’t think anything of it, but the SAME toe on the other foot? I think it’s a fit issue.

I’ll go for a run tonight with my new running shoes after work, to make up for the missed run this morning. As long as I get it in today I’ll still make my goal of 18 miles this week (my weight mgmt weeks runs Tuesday through Monday so I never have to get on the scale on a Monday – those are hard enough already!)

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